Highland Ambush

BridgePort Highland AmbushHighland Ambush is a Scotch Ale in BridgePort Brewing‘s “Big Brews” series, and one with a bit of a history: BridgePort first brewed it back in the 1980s as an homage to then-pub manager Stuart Ramsay. BridgePort resurrected the beer December of last year, and added the twist of partially aging it in fresh bourbon barrels.

Interestingly, I didn’t read the label close enough before I started drinking Highland Ambush: I hadn’t realized it was barrel-aged, but you can see in my notes that the bourbon barrel wood has a strong presence even so.

At 6.8% alcohol by volume, it’s not a “Big Brew” in the over-the-top Imperial sense, and it doesn’t have to be. It has a nice presence and the bourbon barrel aging brings a lot to the table.

Appearance: Dark brown, nutty and a touch gold at the edges. Wood putty-colored generous head. Nice legs as it falls.

Smell: Bready with a note of roasted malt. Some hints of spicy rich leather?—perhaps cedar or similar. (Hops?) [Note: I wrote in “bourbon” after I figured out what it was.]

Taste: Toffee-rich and that spiciness from the nose spills into the big malt notes—tobacco, “from the wood,” something like that. [Realized it was barrel-aged after this point.] Nice touch of heat and interplay of caramelly dark malts. Tasty, spicy.

Mouthfeel: Prickly texture complementing a medium-full body.

Overall: Didn’t know at first it was 1/3 aged in oak bourbon barrels. Malty, tasty, and enjoyable, and I’m digging the spicy wood characters it’s full of. Bourbon comes out in the nose as it warms.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores an overall grade of B+. On RateBeer, it scores 3.53 out of 5 and is in their 82nd percentile.